Right now, going into the 2018 season, it seems like all of the good prospects have moved on to the NFL. We lost Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. Who is going to step up and take their places as far as high draft picks?
These are the guys that could be draft eligible going into next season. Some of these guys will be seniors and some will be three years into the program and able to announce for the draft if they desire.
I am not ready to rank them just yet.
Ryan Finley – North Carolina State: Finley might just be one of the best draft able quarterbacks coming out of next season. The Phoenix, Arizona native, started his career at Boise State. But, he transferred to NC State and has been a starter for the past two seasons, throwing for over 3,000 yards in each year. He is kind of thin at 6-4, 210 but at least he has the length that pro scouts love.
Clayton Thorson – Northwestern: Going into his 4th season as a starter, Thorson has the prototypical size at 6-4, 225. Last season, Thorson had issues with interceptions and that needs to be corrected if he is going to move up the rankings. As a freshman, Thorson was a strong runner, but
they’ve stopped using him in the running game, maybe to protect him.
Jarrett Stidham – Auburn: The Baylor transfer, Stidham, could have declared for the NFL this year. But, he figured wisely, that he probably has more work to do. Although, he seemed to fade late, the athletic Stidham helped turn the Auburn program back around and they beat Alabama to win the SEC West and gain a berth in the SEC Title game. Stidham is 6-3, 215 with an impressive arm and very athletic. He could be that guy.
Hayden Moore – Cincinnati: Moore has been playing since his freshman season and now going into his senior season, he is one of the more experienced quarterbacks in the country. He could have a big season in 2018. Moore is about 6-3, 215.
Eric Dungey – Syracuse: With his fourth year as a starter coming up, Dungey is another guy with plenty of playing time and experience. At 6-4, 225 with a good arm and a strong runner, Dungey is set up to have a big year.
Daniel Jones – Duke: Jones might be iffy on returning to school since he will just be going into his junior season. He started as a true freshman in 2016, but he didn’t have a great season as a sophomore. Jones is really good with his feet and has great size at 6-5, 220. Who knows whether he will return for his senior year or elect to declare for the NFL draft.
Kelly Bryant – Clemson: Bryant returns as the starting quarterback for the Tigers in spite of the fans wanting to replace Bryant. As of now, the senior is the starting quarterback if he can hold off sophomore Hunter Johnson and freshmen Trevor Lawrence and Chase Brice. Bryant has a strong arm, but he struggled with his deep throws and accuracy last season. Bryant is 6-4, 220 and a really strong runner.
Taylor Cornelius – Oklahoma State: He hasn’t played much backing up Mason Rudolph, but he has enormous potential at 6-6, 225. He has to beat out up and coming Keondre Wudtee who is a youngster with great talent. Cornelius will be a senior.
Will Grier – West Virginia: Grier is a talented young guy that’s had his share of issues and injuries. He was having a great season in 2017 before he was injured. He still threw for nearly 3,500 yards. He’s only about 6-2, 215 but he has an arm and he is pretty mobile. Grier will be a senior in 2018.
Nate Stanley – Iowa: Stanley is going into his junior year and I really don’t see him leaving early, but again you never know what somebody will do. Stanley is a big kid at about 6-5, 220 and he’s one of
the better prospects Iowa has had in quite some time.
Brian Lewerke – Michigan State: Going into his junior season, Lewerke might be the best quarterback on this list and the first one picked should he decide to leave. He’s about 6-3, 220 with a good arm and great mobility. His coaches have compared him to former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Elijah Sindelar – Purdue: With the arrival of new head coach Jeff Brohm, a lot of things have changed at Purdue. One of them was the emergence of Sindelar. I would be going out on a thin limb if I said he was a top pro prospect right now. But, he’s got a shot at being really good going into his junior season. He’s got the size that the NFL wants in 6-4, 230 and playing in Brohm’s offense he is just going to continue to get better. He’s not mobile at all, but he’s a big kid with potential.
Alex Hornibrook – Wisconsin: Left hander, and last time I checked there wasn’t a single left handed quarterback in the NFL. He should stay in school, but in today’s world you just never know what a player might do. Hornibrook has good size at 6-4, 215 and he’s strong. I don’t think he comes out, but if he does, he could be a valid prospect.
Jason Driskel – FAU: The younger brother of Jeff Driskel and he had a good season in 2017 helping his team to an 11-3 record in Lane Kiffin’s first season. Driskel is not ideally sized at about 6-2, 210 but he seems to have a little talent and like his brother he is mobile. Jeff Driskel is more like 6-4, 235 and is a back up for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Kwadra Griggs – Southern Miss: In his first year as a starter at quarterback for Southern Miss, he threw 16 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions. Griggs is 6-3, 225 and might need closer inspection.
AJ Erdely – UAB: The 6-4, 220 Erdely transferred from Middle Tennessee and started his first season at UAB. Like Griggs at Southern Miss, Erdely deserves some more attention, possibly. He also threw 16 touchdown passes and had 4 picks.
Tyree Jackson – Buffalo: Jackson is an interesting character because he is a monster at 6-7, 245. Jackson started as a freshman in 2016 and again as a sophomore in 2017. He’s a major project at this time, but his size is appealing. I seriously doubt he leaves after his junior season, but it could happen.
Nathan Rourke – Ohio: Something of a play maker at Ohio is Nathan Rourke, he threw for just over 2,200 yards and 17 touchdowns while running for just over 900 yards. He’s a very mobile kid, but only about 6-2, 210. He’s a Canadian and only going into his junior season. I would suppose that he plays in the CFL eventually.
Brett Rypien – Boise State: I am sure Rypien is tired of hearing he is the nephew of former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien, but he is. At 6-2, 210 Rypien is not going to be a super hot prospect, probably. But, he is going to be a 4 year starter at Boise State.
Jake Browning – Washington: Another 4 year starter is Browning, who came in with the quarterback class of 2015 and has been one of the hottest players in that class. Browning has improved, but he’s just not 6-4. Like several others on this list, Browning is only 6-2, 210. But, he has excellent leadership skills, a good arm and is more mobile than you might think.
Nick Fitzgerald – Miss State: This guy can run, and I mean really run. If he doesn’t work out as a quarterback, he could have a future at another position. When he breaks into the open, not a lot of defensive backs can run him down and he is 6-5, 235. However, in the Egg Bowl, he was severely injured and it will take a little time, possibly, to recover. Fitzgerald ran for 1,300 yards as a sophomore and would have broken the 1,000 yard barrier as a junior as well if not for the injury. His passing has a ways to go, but the potential is definitely there.
Drew Lock – Missouri: Lock could turn out to be the best quarterback in this class. He is coming
back for his senior season after throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns. Very athletic, Lock had to choose between college football and basketball and he has some wheels on his 6-4, 225 frame. He caught on fire during the middle of his junior season under the tutelage of former OU quarterback Josh Heupel. Now, Heupel is gone, having taken the UCF job when Scott Frost left for Nebraska. But, Lock may have already established himself as a top prospect.
Jake Bentley – South Carolina: A young kid with a ton of potential. He skipped his senior year of high school to quarterback in college football and he wound up starting as a true freshman. Last season, Bentley got better as the year progressed and he has a chance to be really good this season. He’s probably about 6-3, 230 and a really solidly built kid.
Kyle Shurmur – Vanderbilt: The son of new New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur, Kyle was raised around football. Vanderbilt is a tough program to excel in, but Shurmur helped them to a bowl game in 2016. Last season, they finished with a 5-7 record, but Shurmur showed a little more improvement at quarterback. At 6-4, 225 or 230, Kyle Shurmur could be an interesting pro prospect and he will be a senior this season.
Justice Hansen – Arkansas State: Oklahoma transfer, Hansen, had a big season in 2017. Throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns, Hansen was one of the better quarterbacks in the country even if he was playing at Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference. Hansen also showed some mobility by running for over 400 yards. He’s got the size at about 6-4, 220, and the talent to be a serious contender for a draft choice.
It’s really early and things can change, but there’s just not that group of guys like last year’s standing out right now.
We have a long way to go before the season gets going, but as of right now my top 5 might be Drew Lock of Missouri, Ryan Finley of NC State, Kyle Shurmur of Vanderbilt, Jarrett Stidham of Auburn and maybe Clayton Thorson of Northwestern. Or, maybe throw in Jake Browning of Washington and Brian Lewerke if he decides to leave early.